When it comes to Disney, Pixar has been a behind-the-scenes factor far before their official merger in 2006. 2007’s Meet the Robinsons boasts John Lasseter’s influence as the fusion between Disney and Pixar occurred during the production of the film (when Lasseter became the chief creative officer for the Walt Disney Company).
Coming in at a runtime of 95-minutes and paced flawlessly, Meet the Robinsons can probably best be described as Disney’s colorful and charming take on Back to the Future.
The story centers on Lewis, an aspiring young inventor at an orphanage whose wacky inventions have been scaring off potential adopters. He comes to the realization that his birth mother is the only one who ever truly loved him and sets off to build a machine to scan the farthest reaches of his memory banks in effort to locate her.
The simplicity of Lewis’ life takes a massive twist when a guy his age shows up at the very science fair he intends to debut his memory scanner claiming to be a cop from the future. Before long Lewis finds himself time traveling to one of the wackiest futures imaginable while being pursued by a mysterious villain in a bowling hat.
My summary sounds simplistic but the fact of the matter is that, unlike so many films geared to the younger set, there is some genuine thought-provoking depth to this one. In fact, and not to give anything away, I’m still pondering the relationships of all of the individuals Lewis encounters when whisked away to the year 2037.
Speaking of, as a society, we’ve collectively been treated to a wide variety of interpretations of the future throughout the years in film, but it’s a pretty safe bet that none can come close to emulating the sheer hilarious craziness of Meet the Robinsons (which technically owes a lot of its credit from the children’s book on which the film is based: A Day With Wilbur Robinson by William Joyce).
People traveling in bubbles, topiary gardens, giant squid butlers, a man married to a hand puppet, a pizza delivery man/ superhero wannabe; the encounters young Lewis experiences in his first few minutes in the future are bizarre, wacky, in some cases over-the-top silly but undeniably entertaining.
Like most Disney feature films, the attention to detail is impeccable. In fact, save for a few paradoxes inherent in all time travel scenarios, the science isn’t even overly laughable either. Unless of course your goal is to laugh, in which case, like Back to the Future before it, viewers of all ages are free to simply sit back and enjoy the ride without any dreaded brain-pretzeling. Kids will laugh at the visuals, the antics and the obvious gags; adults will enjoy the layered depth and the intricacies of the plot (and the accuracy of the time line that can only be verified by repeated viewings).
In all, though considered a commercial and critical success, I was actually surprised that Meet the Robinsons hasn’t achieved the type of universal charm present in nearly anything Pixar touches. Perhaps some of this is due to the simple fact that after the original agreement with Pixar expired, Disney decided they could do the whole compuer-generated feature film thing on their own and formed the Walt Disney Animation Studios, of which this is the first film.
Of course, in the middle a new agreement with Pixar would be reached and hence Lasseter and company would integrate during production. It’s rumored that after having screened the film to Lasseter, some 60% of the material was altered to his suggestions into what is now the final version of the piece (a particular addition coming in the form of a T-rex having been transplanted from the Cretaceous running amok in the year 2037).
Factor in a whimsical score by legendary composer Danny Elfman and the package all comes together. Fans of CG animation and those of good story telling in general will certainly find much to appreciate here.
Pros: fun, amusing, and entertaining with a good message. Cons: May not be complex enough to appeal to older audience members The Bottom Line: Fun and entertaining family film with some beautiful animation. Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. Lewis (Daniel Hansen/Jordan Fry) is no ordinary orphan. Gifted with an inventor's genius, Lewis builds a machine that will sort through and show you … more
Based on William Joyce's beautifully illustrated children's book A DAY WITH WILBUR ROBINSON, this lively computer-animated Disney film follows the adventures of Lewis (voiced by Jordan Fry and Daniel Hansen), a young orphaned inventor who is determined to find his birth mother by using a "memory scanner," a device of his own creation. When Lewis meets a boy from the year 2037 named Wilbur Robinson (Wesley Singerman), they begin a charmingly strange time-traveling journey that involves Wilbur?s eccentric family, bowler hats bent on world domination, song-and-dance frogs, and a frustrated Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Boasting the debut of cutting-edge 3D technology, MEET THE ROBINSONS is helmed by first-time feature-film director Stephen J. Anderson, who also voices numerous characters, including the mustachioed villain, Bowler Hat Guy. (Other notable vocal actors include Angela Bassett, Tom Selleck, Adam West, Harland Williams, and Laurie Metcalf.) ROBINSONS also marks Pixar head John Lasseter's first ou...